another question about stress leave

hi there,

in trying to find out how a person determines whether or not they should take stress leave, i did a Google search and landed here. i did see another gal’s post - it was helpful but i’d like to get the forum’s opinion on my matter as well. i’ll try to be brief.

my dad got very sick and died in june 2008. he was the one that i was closest to in my family.

my mom was sick with pancreatic cancer and i was her caretaker for about 6 months of the last year that she was alive, working from home 5 days/week and taking care of her then commuting to work for 2 days (500 miles round trip). she died this last august.

my favorite uncle/dad’s bro died 1.5 weeks after my mom’s memorial - long story but he aspirated stomach acid into his lungs, got pneumonia, and died within a couple of months. he looked the most like dad out of the 4 brothers that dad had - and he and dad were close.

about a month before my mom died, my boyfriend of 2.5 years bought me a pair of beautiful diamond earrings, asked me to move in with him… and then dumped me unexpectedly in an email a month after my mom died. no reason, no remorse, just said that he didnt think we should go any further - he called me this last valentines day asking about being friends - no.

out of my three brothers, there is only one that i am closest to (200mi away) - he is going through a divorce after 23 yrs of marriage and his first priority is his children, as it should be. my other two brothers have substance abuse issues and the oldest is unstable: about 1.5 weeks ago he showed up at the office of the probate atty in reno, the one handling our mother’s estate, and the atty and the staff felt threatened so now my brother in Sac and i need to meet with her and do some damage control.

since my mom died, i’ve been having panic attacks…in the middle of the night - about once a week at least… so i wake up to my entire body totally trembling, and twitching. night sweats on top of that. digestive issues that result in a lot of quality time with the toilet. nightmares. i’m exhausted. i’ll add that i did go to the dr about the panic attacks and she gave me a scrip for xanax - i’m supposed to take 1/2 pill before bed and then again before work - i can’t take the stuff or i’m just a zombie - i have the entire prescription minus 1 pill.

work sucks in that over the past year, they’ve systematically removed any career track for me and my two colleagues, there’s no interest in our professional growth, they’ve changed us from salary to hourly for business reasons to which we are not privy, and after career “leveling” throughout the company, there’s now no senior position to be promoted to. work isn’t the issue, but it exacerbates my other issues.

i’m all out of sick leave - i feel like mentally and emotionally that i am just wiped out. every time i start thinking about my parents, or if something comes up in church pertaining to parents or even the military, i start crying. i simply don’t know what to do. i feel broken. i gave myself a night and day away in half moon bay and yet i still called in sick today.

what would you do???

Have you told your doctor that the Xanax doesn’t work well for you? There are lots of other medical options, and she may be able to suggest other things as well. Otherwise it’s like shrugging your shoulders when the mechanics do something to your car that doesn’t fix the problem.

Just be prepared to be “gotten rid of” for this , with some other excuse that they make up,

I’m sorry for your situation, I’ve know many with the same problem, they all get fired/effed over for admitting any kind of stress/depression issue. Best of luck to you, be careful.

Stress leave sounds like a good idea at this point; I volunteer with an anxiety disorder support group, and just about every new person who shows up has a story very similar to yours - everything happens at once, and stuff just piles on until they can’t cope with it any longer.

If you can get your doctor onside, take your stress leave. Your company shouldn’t be able to fire you for anxiety/depression problems (but part of your stress leave might involve looking for a better job). Take a leave, decompress, and try to deal with all the stuff going on - you shouldn’t come out of a stress leave with all the same problems as you went in with, because you’ve already figured out that how things were wasn’t working.

As for your anxiety, I recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It works very well with anxiety and depression issues, by helping you untwist your tangled up thinking habits. I’ve used it myself, and I was very impressed with it. If you decide to see a therapist, they should be willing to work with CBT for you - you shouldn’t need decades of talk therapy (she says, based on a post on the internet :slight_smile: ).

There’s no question in my mind as to whether you should take one. Yes you definitely should, you’ve handled more stress in a year than I’ve had in my entire life, and I’m already half-crazy (not that you’re crazy… but you know what I mean). Take at least a couple months to get your personal stuff together, and then start job searching. If you can’t find something you can always go back to your current employer after your FMLA leave is up. But it sounds like they are a significant source of stress and you’d do well to get away.

How to go about this depends strongly on where you live and work. In Canada, where Cat is, mental health leave is commonly acknowledged as reasonable, and not that hard to get for as long as you need. As long as a doctor writes it, you’re good. In America, employers take a very dim view of mental health issues, so you should try to keep the reason for your leave a secret if you live/work in the US. There is FMLA which will allow you up to 6 (I think) months of unpaid leave. Get your doctor to approve it, which I have no doubt he/she will, and take the documentation straight to your HR department (do not pass your desk, do not collect $200). Don’t tell your managers or coworkers jack squat, they don’t need to know and it can only hurt you if they find out.

And yeah try out some more antidepressants. Some people enjoy that dopey feeling, but others hate it. There are plenty of pills that leave you clear-headed instead. Your health insurance will continue (I think) while you’re on FMLA leave. Or, if you can’t afford unpaid leave, you can try to file through short term disability, which will pay 50-70% of your income minus a week-long unpaid waiting period.

…you’ve all given me lots to think about, in a good way, and i appreciate that - thank you.

i see the dr tomorrow and will talk to her more about it then.

since i created this post, my ibs is on the run again (pun intended) and i have a chest cold: coughing fits and “urgent” digestive issues don’t really pair well… !

i did do some looking around online to try and find out more about what is going on with my body: i found a site that compared stressed out vs burned out… i was able to check off 95% of everything indicating burn out.

while my work presence has been ambivalent (all outta sick days), and while i am buried, somehow i’ve managed to keep most of my internal clients happy (save for one that is just never happy with anything). the pattern seems to be that i gather momentum and try to push through the burn out, and then get sick again - i’m sick every month - i’ve never been sick every month.

and while my boss doesn’t know the ins and outs of everything, i’m sure that he knows that things are not optimum on the family front: my oldest brother wasn’t just harassing me personally on my time, but he was sending hate mail to me at work as well, so i had to work with my boss to get that to stop (weird company policy about needing approvals to block emails…? talk about embarrassing)… and i missed a conference call when the same brother created an issue at the probate atty’s office because she called me and that was an emergency. i don’t mean to sound pissy, but it’s interesting how people that have a child with the sniffles can take off of work without question, but if i have a family emergency where my brother has gone totally bonkers and people feel threatened, i’m supposed to plan that.

maybe i’ll have some clarity after talking to the doc tomorrow… i’m still not sure what’s best… well, i think i know what i need, but i don’t know that i’m ready for the potential consequences…